How much do you really know about the Taj Mahal?

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By jwblackwell

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9 Questions

What is the Taj Mahal?

What is the Taj Mahal made of?

Who commissioned the construction of the Taj Mahal?

What is the Taj Mahal complex surrounded by?

What is the charbagh garden?

What is the most spectacular feature of the Taj Mahal?

What is the total cost of construction of the Taj Mahal estimated to be?

What is the myth surrounding a black Taj Mahal?

What controversy has surrounded the Taj Mahal?

Summary

Marble Mausoleum in Agra, India

  • The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the right bank of the river Yamuna in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.
  • It was commissioned in 1631 by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself.
  • The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by Ustad Ahmad Lahori, the emperor’s court architect.
  • The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage".
  • The Taj Mahal attracts more than 6 million visitors a year and in 2007, it was declared a winner of the New 7 Wonders of the World initiative.
  • The name "Taj" came from the corruption of the second syllable of "Mumtaz".
  • The tomb is a large, white marble structure standing on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan topped by a large dome and finial.
  • The most spectacular feature is the marble dome that surmounts the tomb. The dome is nearly 35 metres high and is accentuated by the cylindrical "drum" it sits on.
  • The exterior decorations of the Taj Mahal are among the finest in Mughal architecture. As the surface area changes, the decorations are refined proportionally.
  • The interior chamber of the Taj Mahal reaches far beyond traditional decorative elements. The inlay work is not pietra dura, but a lapidary of precious and semiprecious gemstones.
  • The complex is set around a large 300-metre square charbagh or Mughal garden.
  • The charbagh garden, a design inspired by Persian gardens, was introduced to India by Babur, the first Mughal emperor.The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, and is widely recognized as a symbol of India. The construction of the Taj Mahal was commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. The Taj Mahal complex includes a garden, outlying buildings, and a monumental gateway made primarily of marble. The garden design incorporates the Yamuna river, which was meant to be seen as one of the rivers of Paradise. The Taj Mahal complex is bordered on three sides by crenellated red sandstone walls, and outside the walls are several additional mausoleums, including those of Shah Jahan's other wives. The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia, with over 1,000 elephants used to transport building materials. The total cost of construction is estimated to be around ₹ 32 million, which is around ₹ 52.8 billion ($827 million US) based on 2015 values. The Taj Mahal is a symbol of Shah Jahan's wealth and power, as well as a symbol of love. The planning and structure of the Taj Mahal, from the building itself to the gardens and beyond, is symbolic of Mumtaz Mahal's mansion in the garden of Paradise. The Taj Mahal attracts a large number of tourists, with a significantly lower entrance fee for Indian citizens and more expensive ones for foreigners. The grounds are open from 06:00 to 19:00 weekdays, except for Friday when the complex is open for prayers at the mosque between 12:00 and 14:00. Foreign dignitaries often visit the Taj Mahal on trips to India. A longstanding myth holds that Shah Jahan planned a mausoleum to be built in black marble as a Black Taj Mahal across the Yamuna river, but excavations carried out in the 1990s found that they were discoloured white stones that had turned black.Myths and Controversies Surrounding the Taj Mahal

Myths

  • The black mausoleum was reconstructed in 2006, demonstrating Shah Jahan's obsession with symmetry and positioning.
  • There is no concrete evidence to support various claims of deaths, dismemberments, and mutilations of architects and craftsmen who worked on the tomb.
  • Claims that Lord William Bentinck planned to demolish the Taj Mahal and auction off the marble are not true.
  • Beating the silhouette of the finial will not cause water to come forth.
  • There is no archaeological evidence to support claims that people other than Shah Jahan and the original architects were responsible for the construction of the Taj Mahal.
  • The Supreme Court of India dismissed a petition in 2000 that suggested a Hindu king built the Taj Mahal.
  • The Taj Mahal was not designed by an Italian or a Frenchman.

Controversies

  • Several court cases have been inspired by P. N. Oak's theory that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has stated that there is no evidence to suggest the monument ever housed a temple.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party members have claimed that the Taj Mahal was built after destroying a Hindu temple called "Tejo Mahalaya" and that it housed a Shiva linga.
  • Theories about the Taj Mahal being a Shiva temple started circulating when Oak released his 1989 book "Taj Mahal: The True Story".
  • In 2017, the Uttar Pradesh government did not include the Taj Mahal in its official tourism booklet, creating controversy.
  • BJP MLA Sangeet Som claimed that those who built the Taj Mahal were traitors and that it was a "blot" on the country's culture.
  • CM Adityanath stated Som's comments were personal and the government will focus on the tourism potential of every monument.

Description

Test your knowledge of one of the most iconic mausoleums in the world - the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Discover interesting facts about its construction, architecture, and history. Learn about the myths and controversies surrounding this wonder of the world. Take this quiz to see how much you really know about the Marble Mausoleum in Agra, India!

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